Unless most of the teams in your league carry a backup defense, more than half of the league should be available to you every week. Perhaps instead of playing one above average defense every week, regardless of matchup, we should instead target the widely available waiver wire defenses with the best matchups in any particular week? You can always make exceptions if your rent-a-defense gets hot - heck, you might find a team worth starting all year by accident. Even if you don't, good matchups will continue to get greater in number as more QBs get injured or yanked as the season goes on. You can steal some points from bad weather come December. Each week I'll list the startable fantasy defenses on most waiver wires and rank them.
**Kansas City and Jacksonville have great Week 6 matchups, but are assumed to be owned in most leagues**
Week 5 Results
Detroit (vs Carolina) - 3 sacks
A Look Ahead: @NO BYE PIT - We don’t play D/ST’s heading into the Superdome.
Philadelphia (vs Arizona) - 2 sacks
Everything went perfectly in the game script for an Eagles D/ST bonanza except the defense didn’t force any turnovers. They didn’t need, as the Cardinals offense was feeble and the game was really never in doubt.
A Look Ahead: @CAR WAS SF - Cam Newton has been playing too well to dial up the Eagles in your lineup this week.
Indianapolis (vs San Francisco) - 2 sacks
Brian Hoyer was held in check for a good part of this thriller, but not via takeaways or sacks. The Colts D/ST won’t be a consideration again unless the matchup is irresistible.
A Look Ahead: @TEN JAX @CIN - Maybe if we knew Matt Cassel was starting and the game was in Indianapolis. We don’t and it isn’t.
Oakland (vs Baltimore) - Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis.
Baltimore (at Oakland) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Our one hit in this terrible week for waiver defenses. Jimmy Smith had a return score before his achilles injury flared up.
A Look Ahead: CHI @MIN MIA - Mitchell Trubisky coming to Baltimore? Yes, we like this.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Jacksonville (at Pittsburgh) - 2 sacks, 5 INT, 2 DEF TD
Maybe Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t have it anymore, but the Jaguars secondary sure does.
Miami (vs Tennessee) - 6 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
The Dolphins defense had a grand total of four sacks and one takeaway in three games heading into this one, but Matt Cassel saw to it that they eclipsed both in one game. If Mariota hadn’t been a game-time decision, this one would have been easier to forecast.
Green Bay (at Dallas) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
Thank a Terrance Williams drop for the pick six and difference in this game.
Week 6 Candidates
Denver (vs NY Giants)
I know, I know, Denver was the top drafted D/ST in most leagues. They might have been dropped on their bye, you never know. Check and see - Eli Manning with at best a banged up Sterling Shepard as his #1 receiver is good eatin for a defense.
A Look Ahead - @LAC @KC @PHI - And they might be dropped again with no creampuffs on the road trip
Baltimore (vs Chicago)
Rookie quarterback? Check. Home game? Check. Defense heating up? Check. The Ravens D/ST might be available in your league after they were useless in Weeks 3 and 4. They will be useful this week.
A Look Ahead - @MIN MIA @TEN - Case Keenum should be the starter in Week 7, and we’ll be happy to start the Ravens D/ST in Week 8 against whoever Miami trots out there.
Washington (vs San Francisco)
The team is well-rested coming off of a bye and they have been a strong D/ST at home so far this year, with a defensive score and multiple sacks and takeaways in both games. Brian Hoyer recovered for a solid second half last week, but he can turn back into Hoyer the Destroyer at any time.
A Look Ahead - @PHI DAL @SEA - A dry stretch coming up but we will come back to Washington’s D/ST later this year.
New Orleans (vs Detroit)
Don’t laugh. The Saints had four sacks in each of their last two games heading into the bye, with three picks in one and a shutout in the other. If Drew Brees can stake them to a lead in the Superdome, the pass rush can tee off against a line that has allowed six sacks in each of the last two games.
Houston (vs Cleveland)
This one is tough because the Texans D/ST was red-hot coming into Week 5, Deshaun Watson makes their offense viable, and the Browns are a great matchup for a D/ST on paper. The Texans lost JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, Kevin Hogan might start and be less mistake-prone than DeShone Kizer. I’m less enthusiastic about this one than I was heading into Week 5.
A Look Ahead - BYE @SEA IND - We might not return to the Texans again this year.
Atlanta (vs Miami)
The Falcons D/ST had been quiet heading into their Week 5 bye, but they are set to get Vic Beasley Jr back this week to reinvigorate the pass rush. They’ll be at home against the morose Dolphins, where they had a defensive score and good performance against Aaron Rodgers earlier this year.
A Look Ahead - @NE @NYJ @CAR - We’ll move on after this week.
Tennessee (vs Indianapolis)
Few D/ST’s have been less productive than the Titans so far this year, so this takes some faith, including faith in Marcus Mariota to be ready to go for Monday night. The Colts have allowed at least three sacks in every game, and the prime time home crowd could fuel them to a big night against Jacoby Brissett.
A Look Ahead - @CLE BYE BAL - The Week 7 matchup could help you break ties in favor of the Titans this week.
Week 7 Preemptive Pickups
Seattle (at New York Giants)
Carolina (at Chicago)
Los Angeles Rams (vs Arizona)
Minnesota (vs Baltimore)
Tennessee (at Cleveland)